how To Develop A Grateful Heart (in 5 Easy Steps!)
Do you naturally have a grateful heart? Are you able to easily find things to be thankful for in your life? Or do you struggle to express gratitude for all that you have?
We all experience feelings of gratitude in different ways. For some, a grateful heart comes naturally and without any effort. Others struggle and have to put in a lot of effort to look for things to be thankful for.
However, a grateful heart is something that you can develop, regardless of whether you are naturally a grateful person or not.
A Grateful Heart Meaning
Living a life of gratitude starts with a grateful heart – meaning, the feelings that come from the heart tend to be positive, grateful feelings first.
People who have developed a grateful heart tend to find things to be thankful for rather easily. Even when life goes out of its way to make things challenging, people who have gratitude in their hearts are able to choose to be grateful.
Does this mean that grateful people are always positive?
Well, no, of course not! No one can be positive or grateful 100% of the time. It wouldn’t be healthy to avoid every negative feeling you ever have.
But as it turns out, it is possible to feel negativity but still find gratitude regardless!
How to Choose A Grateful Heart
Wait, a grateful heart is a choice?
Yes! Much like choosing your mindset, gratitude is something that you can choose to express, or not.
We all feel gratitude in some way. For some, it is at the front of our hearts and minds, and it shines brightly through dark feelings and emotions. For these people, it is easy to find things to be thankful for, even when things get tough.
For others, gratitude gets buried behind negative thoughts and feelings. For these people, it is harder to see past challenges and setbacks to find things to be thankful for.
Let’s look at a few very simple and practical ways to feed your grateful heart. It is time to let it shine throughout your life and into the lives of others!
1. Use Grateful Language
Just like love, gratitude has its own language.
There are certain words that we can choose to use that convey gratitude. Common examples are phrases such as thank you and I appreciate it.
But there are more subtle and more powerful ways that we can use grateful language to prime our minds to choose a gratitude mindset.
My favorite word trick is to find ways to make my brain think that I am choosing to do something that I don’t want to do. When we feel that we are choosing, gratitude comes easier to us.
The best way to do this is to use the words ‘get to’ rather than ‘have to’.
When we get to do something, it feels like an exciting opportunity! But when we have to do something, it feels like an obligation.
For example, ‘I have to mow the lawn’ turns into ‘I get to mow the lawn’.
Why am I grateful for the opportunity to mow the lawn? Well, I get 30 minutes of light exercise and quiet reflection to myself while listening to my favorite music. And I am always grateful for it!
It takes a bit of practice to hunt for it, but you can usually find something to be grateful for in the most unlikely places!
The language we use truly has the power to transform the way we feel and express gratitude. How can you change the language you use to express gratitude?
2. Focus On What You Do Have
A person with a grateful heart is able to find gratitude in what they have, regardless of how much they have.
In some ways, it is healthy to want more for your life. When used right, this desire can be used to help you grow and find your life passion.
But, our culture sends us confusing messages that tell us having more money and more stuff is the key to happiness. So many of our thoughts, words, and actions become about what we don’t have.
We don’t have enough money, stuff, energy, or time!
But, if you want to live life with a grateful heart, take a minute to think about things to be thankful for that you do have enough of. Have you ever looked around your home and taken stock of what you do have? If you take a moment to complete this very simple exercise, you will be amazed at how much you do have.
Tune out all of the thoughts of ‘don’t have’ or ‘not enough’. Focus on the things you are fortunate enough to be able to have in your home. It could be a loving family or pet. Or it could be a kitchen full of fresh food and water.
Sure, it is easier to complain about what you don’t have. But, we will always be able to have more. Even when you get everything you want, there will always be more money and more stuff.
Instead, allow your grateful heart to guide you toward appreciation for all that you are fortunate to have in your life. There is power in telling yourself a different story about your life.
3. Changing Your Focus
The world is full of bad news. It doesn’t take much effort to find the latest depressing story. Being tuned into social media makes it easier than ever!
Our constant connection to what is going on outside of our home makes it harder to see all the good that is right in front of our eyes.
Take a second to put your device down and look for something you are grateful for. Think about how easy it is to miss out on that feeling when you are sucked into your screen! If you find this challenging, try using quotes on gratitude for inspiration!
Spend some time thinking about how to reconnect with your family in a new way. Be present in a deep and meaningful conversation with a good friend or loved one. There are plenty of special and unique moments to focus on right in the comforts of your home.
If you find that you are focusing heavily on negative news or social media posts, consider a social media hiatus to refocus on gratitude.
4. Start Each Day With a Grateful Heart
My most prized coffee mug is one that my wife made for me. It has the caption “start each day with a grateful heart” written on it, and is covered with pictures of our kids and I having fun together.
I do not have a naturally grateful heart. By nature, I am overly critical, and am quick to find fault in things. Often, I start my day worrying, stressing, or nervous about something to come.
We all have our challenges, but we also have choices. However, a few years ago I made a gratitude goal for myself. My goal was to start actively looking for gratitude as the first thing I do in the morning.
We see what we look for! When we start each day with a grateful heart, we look for gratitude throughout our day. It becomes easier to find things to be thankful for. This has a massive impact on our happiness levels throughout the day.
So take a moment every morning to make sure you start each day with a grateful heart. It doesn’t have to be a massive moment. Just something small and meaningful that will help you to start looking for gratitude throughout the day.
If you need some help focusing your thoughts on gratitude, try using positive affirmations. Repeating the right affirmations will help you intentionally bring gratitude to the front of your mind.
5. Tell The World!
One of the best ways to develop a grateful heart is to put gratitude out into the world with words. When we say or write down the things that we are grateful for, our thoughts become our reality.
This can be as easy as sitting down with your family at dinner time to spend 5 minutes saying what you are grateful for. Or just casually working gratitude into conversations you have with your loved ones.
If you prefer to express gratitude in private, a gratitude journal has the power to transform your entire day. If you are ever feeling negative or grumpy, try quickly writing down 5 things you are grateful for.
Sometimes gratitude isn’t easy to find. Check out our list of 50 gratitude list ideas to help get you started!
Gratitude journals don’t have to be written in a formal book either. Even just writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone can be just as powerful!
If you ever have a day where you struggle with a grateful heart, you can just open your journal and look back at a day where you found some great things to be thankful for.
Choose a Grateful Heart
Regardless of whether you struggle with gratitude or you find it easy, a grateful heart is within your reach. Even if your life isn’t what you want it to be, you can still take steps to work toward making gratitude a regular part of your day.
A powerful metaphor I like to remember is this:
Life is a hand of cards that you are dealt. Sometimes, you get a really great hand, while other times you don’t. But, regardless of the hand, you have to play the game.
Looking through the deck for better cards is cheating and against the rules! Instead, you have to play the game to the best of your ability with the hand you are dealt.
I find this metaphor to be a powerful reminder to choose gratitude. It is always easy to complain about how hard things are or how you wish they were different. But, in the end, you have one hand of cards. Being grateful for the hand you are dealt will make playing the game a lot more fun than if you spend your time digging for a better hand.
There are things to be thankful for that you have in your life right now. So start each day with a grateful heart, and finish each day knowing that you played your hand the best way you could. With gratitude.
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone who could use some help finding a grateful heart, this post could be what they need to help them with their search!